December 10th, 2009

St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale Pub Crawl II: A Preview by Way of Recap

In 6 Words: Crawl, Tee, Potent, Potable, Pint, Bocce

We here, at The Loop Scoop don’t just find awesome stuff for you to do, we also do this stuff ourselves. After hearing about the St. Arnold’s Christmas Ale Pub Crawl II, I know how I will be spending my Friday night. Why am I so confident? Because I participated in St. Arnold Brewing Company’s last pub crawl before Thanksgiving. To prepare for the pub crawl tomorrow I figured I would go over my notes from last month. Armed with the following clues, I planned to Poirot my way through the North Village. I’ve always wanted to be called Hercule, so I set off in search of my very own free pint glass!

“Sounds like a Scottish pub.”

My girlfriend and I started off the night at the Kelvin Arms because it was the only bar that had it’s own dedicated parking lot. The plan was flawless, but the execution left much to be desired, as thelot was completely full by the time we arrived. Luckily, we found parking down a side street, less than a block away. It was cold, much closer to a November night than many we’ve had lately, so we quickly made the walk. The Kelvin Arms was an inviting bar located next to Benjy’s on Dunstan. Part lounge and part sport’s bar, it’s all chill. My speed. The table seating greeted us as we walked in. The L-shaped bar, large enough to have three bartenders working, ran down the left hand side of the wall and then extended out, staying parallel with a wall that held their draft beer taps. On the right hand side was an open vault that served as an entry into another room. The bar wasn’t nearly as crowded as I expected and we found our Pub Crawl tickets quite easily next to the golden tee machine. Being ready and equipped for the expected crowd, they had pre-poured beers that were waiting for us. I ordered a Christmas Ale for myself and an Amber for my girlfriend and handed over the cash… Easy as pie. Color me impressed. After walking around, we settled in for a quick round of Golden Tee – what can I say, I have a computer golf addiction; it could be worse. At our place right next to the ticket table, we had a front row seat as people streamed in for their beer passports and we even learned some interesting tidbits. The tours are still not up and running, the St. Arnold folk are benevolent souls, limiting the Pub crawl to 4 stops, because the Christmas Ale packs a potent punch, and many, many people are excited for December 1st, myself included. After the round of beers and Tee, the bar was starting to fill up, so we decided to make our way over to…

“Think of New Orleans nicknames.”

After a stop at the car, we decided that we might as well just make the short walk up Kirby, to theThe Big Easy. The outside porch was just a concrete slab with a fence and a few picnic tables with people scattered around. There was nothing to note at the entrance, so I just pulled on the first door I saw. This was actually the first time I had ever been inside the bar after driving by it for years. As we entered and got our cards punched, I felt right at home in the NOLA-themed dive bar. Immediately, I had visions of the bar from Animal House, only Otis Day and the Knights weren’t playing. Even without people smoking, the bar was dark and hazy. There was a stage utilized for live jazz at the front corner of the room. It was surrounded by tables and a row of elevated booths lined the far wall. The bar was against the right side of the back wall and two pool tables took up the space in the rear left corner. It was still relatively quiet, so we made our way to the bar and ordered our next round. Another Christmas for me and a Lawnmower for her. As I waited for the beers, I realized that someone had neglected to mention the pub crawl to the regulars, and they sat on their stools mystified at what was happening to their familiar haunt. The bar top was literally divided in half. On the right, all the old time regulars sat, quietly sipping their jack and cokes, looking confused and flustered. On the other side, a new legion of 30-something beer drinkers congregated, threatening to invade their space with each passing minute. I nodded my condolences to one of the regulars and then went in search of a place to enjoy my beer. We found space at a table top just behind the bar. As the night wore on, I noticed the regulars quickly headed out the door as more and more crawlers poured into the bar. As the Big Easy became crowded with our fellow crawlers, we decided we’d better be off to the next bar.

“Half of Hans and Franz.”

Our third and final stop during the open period was Hans’ Bierhaus, which filled me with a certain nostalgia. Hans’ was one of my favorite drinking spots in college and I hadn’t been in quite a few years. It never mattered what I showed up in or who I was with, there was always a friendly bartender to pour me a good beer. The Hans’ that I showed up to during the pub crawl was like one I had never experienced. Hans’ was more like a house than a bar, with a few different rooms and an assortment of random furniture. After walking through the first two rooms, we entered into the bar area, with a wall full of taps on the right and an assortment of tables and odd chairs. Continuing on into the backyard, we came across picnic tables, a bocce court and a back bar that in all my years, was never open. Except on this night. Hans’ was packed, ridiculously packed. I had to wait 15 minutes before securing a tasty beverage. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve experienced these types of waits before, but it’s usually because the only bartender was on his cellphone or in the bathroom. After managing to get a beer, I retraced my steps out to the front patio, as my girlfriend stood in line for a bathroom. I spied a port-a-potty across street and when my girlfriend found her way back to me, I walked across the street to a bathroom without a line. Exiting the port-a-can , I saw my friends that had decided to join us. We once again entered the packed Bierhaus. Waiting at the bar, I ran into another friend of mine who was crawling with his cousin. Hans’ was actually their first stop, so after raising a Double Dog with him, we parted ways and I found my group on the deck just out the back doors. The backyard was awash with people. Luckily the guy punching cards was right next to us. After a few minutes on the deck, the group sitting at the closest table left, so we quickly snagged their seats. As we sat around the table catching up, I remarked to my friend that I’d never seen Hans’ this crowded.

“Think: hot lava.”

In order to get our glasses, we headed over to the Under the Volcano as close to 9PM as possible. Still, by the time we made it up to Bissonet, the Volcano was overflowing into a fenced in area of the parking lot. Our group got separated, I managed to obtain a beer and a bratwurst topped with sauerkraut, and then we eventually found everyone and even ran into our other friend and his cousin. After we finished our brats , we decided that things were a little too crazy. One thing was very true, the Christmas Ales packed quite a punch and if the pub crawl had been any longer, I would have had to bail out. As it was. with my objective complete and glasses in hand, we left. A little fatter, a little drunker and a lot happier.

HINTS and TIPS:

- It’s going to be a little cold and a little rainy on Friday. Be prepared.
- Be at one of the first locations between 6PM and 7PM to get your ticket.
- To give Loopsters an edge, we’ve solved the clues for the first three spots:

1) We’ll find two places in the southeastern Morningside area but north of University. Hint: Ginger wood. [Gingerman and Little Woodrows]
2) We’ll find one place around Rice Blvd and Kirby. You’ll have to wing this one. [Buffalo Wild Wings]

- You’re on your own for the final spot: At 9:00 we’ll look for one final place in the Morningside area, perhaps a little north of the others, but still staying south of Rice Blvd.
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Park in the Rice Village parking garage and make the walk between the three places. No need to be out there driving especially when all four places are within a mile of each other.

— Marc

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